For me, as I suspect is true for all of us, the search for “home” has been a lifelong journey. I can humbly say that I believe I have found “home” in a place within where I am at peace with myself, one with the God of my understanding, pretty clear on what my gifts are to the world, sharing those gifts to the best of my ability and creating the life rhythm and flow that supports the Home I feel within myself.
I’m still working on the rhythm and flow piece, but the rest feels pretty well-grounded. The one piece that is not yet matching the vision that has been with me for the past 26 years (my whole life if I’m really honest) is the COMMUNITY piece.
This is where I need your help!
The overall vision of Authentic Freedom, is, and has always been, TO BE A SPIRITUAL HOME where women and men can gather as companions on this journey of self-discovery and self-actualization – being unconditional, loving support for each other as we try to find our way home – home to ourselves. This is the kind of support that can only be found in the sanctity and refuge of a safe space in which we can be ourselves, where we can share our own individual perspectives, believes and experiences without fear of judgment. It can also only happen in a space where we can equally share our fears, our struggles and our challenges along the path. The way can be hard and we often need each other to lift each other up!
This is the exact purpose of the membership options at Authentic Freedom, to create space in which people may gather and connect. The social network (Plus Membership) and Teacher’s Circle (Premium), especially, lend themselves to connection.
If you have not yet joined our Social Network, please consider doing so. It’s only $15.00 per month and if even that is outside of your budget, please email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org and we will figure something out. I don’t want to turn away anyone to truly feels called to be in community with those of like mind.
In a word: YES, but not in the way many religious institutions would have us believe. While some (many) have used the Bible to manipulate the masses and to put forth their own hidden (or sometimes not so hidden) agendas, this is not how scripture proves relevant to us today. I should probably qualify that statement….if our desire is for separation, then using the Bible to put forth dogma, justify separative actions, or to sell the story of a God who wants you to be wealthy, then that is how one will use the Bible. If, however, our desire is for unity and for humanity to come together in harmony with one another, then we are required to approach scripture in a different way.
While the Bible is the inspired word of God (Truth, Love, The Divine, by whatever name you call the Source and Revelation of all that is), so too is every example of the written word. As we become increasingly aware of the wisdom traditions and sacred writings of other cultures, we discover an abundantly flowing wellspring of wisdom. As the Western world grows increasingly disenchanted with institutional Christianity and discovers the compassionate teachings of our friends in the East or from the Native people who were here before the European invasion, the temptation is to exchange the traditions in which we were raised for these “new age ideas.” The problem is that there is nothing “new” about New Age, neither is there something unique in Buddhism, Hinduism, Zen, Paganism, or Native traditions that we cannot find in our own traditions.
This is where the rich tradition of Christian contemplative practices proves helpful. (Note: there is also nothing unique to the tradition of Christian contemplative practices, expressions of all the practices we call “Christian” can be found in the Jewish faith out of which Christianity emerged, and also within the spiritual practices of the cultures in which Judaism was immersed.) With these practices, we can approach scripture through the lens of inquiry and as a tool through which we can discover and discern our own truth. In this way, scripture acts like a mirror, reflecting the guidance, insights, learning, comfort and healing we need in the present moment. Whether we think of God as the Divine Source of all that is, or as a reflection of our highest self, when applying contemplative practices to scripture, “God” is providing us with what we need. It is through these contemplative practices that we come to know the God of our own understanding while at the same time coming to know ourselves. In this way, scripture is can be our teacher, our source of guidance and direction, our healer, our counselor and our comforter.
This post is an excerpt from our Authentic Freedom Weekly Lesson. Become a member today and enjoy this, another other offerings:
I have spent my lifetime coming to know myself. As an educator and counselor, writing has always come easy, but art has come as a great surprise. My art comes from my heart and has its own message for those for whom the message is intended.
Thanks to the encouragement (ass kicking) of several of my spiritual sisters, I am now offering my art for sale. Click on the image below to access our online store!
It has been said that courage is not the absence of fear, but is instead the ability to move forward in spite of our fear. THIS is the lesson and meaning of life and what Jesus came to teach us. This courage is what we commemorate and give honor to in our Good Friday observance and what we are invited to embrace in our own lives. Whether we profess Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, the Buddha, Amma, Anandamayima, the 13 Grandmothers, Spider Woman, Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene or any other formerly living human as our teacher, the lesson is the same:
Do not fear the darkness of life. Instead, let it lead you to freedom.
In every spiritual tradition, the invitation is the same – FREEDOM. Some describe this freedom as salvation. Others speak of it as presence, bliss, oneness, unity, peace, or love. No matter what word is used to describe this freedom, the sentiment is the same. We are here to remember the freedom we once knew and will once again know and we are here to remember this freedom right here in the midst of our human experience.
Like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. One of my favorite scenes from the life of Jesus. Here he wrestled with his doubts and his fears. Because of his foresight and wisdom, he had a sense of where his path was heading. He knew there were those threatened by his presence and that if people truly believed what Jesus had come to know, many would lose their perceived place of power and privilege. Jesus knew they plotted to kill him. He was afraid. Terrified. And in this, he wondered if God really had his back. Had he simply made it all up or was what had been revealed to him really true? Jesus fought hard with these fears and doubts. He was tempted to chuck it all and return to a normal human life. Instead, through the agony of prayer, he found peace. He discovered resolve. He harnessed the deep well of courage within him to face his greatest fears – suffering and death.
But Jesus’ struggle didn’t end in the Garden. His fears surfaced over and over and over as he took one step at a time on the road to Calvary. When accused. While on trial. When he was whipped and beaten. When the soldiers placed the crown of throne on his head. When we was given the cross to carry through the city of Jerusalem and up the winding road to Golgotha. As people mocked and ridiculed him, spit on him, called his names. When he fell. When he stumbled. Every step of the way rose up another fear. Jesus did not overcome his fears, he walked through them. He faced them. He bore them. And he walked. One step at a time. As the executioners nailed his body to the cross. As the cross was lifted and his body sunk under its own weight, crushing his lungs. Terrified. Feeling abandoned and betrayed. Suffering the excruciating death of crucifixion. Jesus was afraid. In pain. Suffering. In his suffering he turned to God and this is where he found his courage. Where he found his acceptance and peace.
Hopefully none of us will have to face the death of crucifixion, but fear, suffering, and death are all consequences of the human condition. We cannot escape it. We will all experience suffering. We will all face challenge and difficulty. We will all experience loss, betrayal, and death. This is the human condition and this is why the Jesus story is so important – for all of us. In the crucifixion narrative and the events leading up to it, Jesus shows us how to face the darkness of life. He shows us how to find our way through our fears (he never promises the elimination of fear) and most importantly, how to walk on in spite of our fears.
What darkness are you currently facing?
How are you being invited to be with your fears and in being with them finding the courage to walk on?
Authentic Freedom is a protocol inspired by Jesus which shows us how to face and move through our fears in our own journey toward freedom. Learn more HERE.
Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be
Let’s talk about death…..
As it has been said, there are two things that are certain in the human experience: change and death. We have spoken at length about change, but we haven’t spent much time on the topic of death. Death is certain and every day of our lives is a slow (or quick) march toward that death. We cannot avoid it – our own death or the death of those we love and care about. While death is certain, and could simply be viewed as an ordinary part of our human experience, it is also our greatest fear.
As we fear and resist change, so too do we resist and fear death. It may not be death specifically that we fear, but the inability to control, when, how and with how much pain (physical or otherwise) we experience death. We also fear that which comes after death – if anything. And perhaps more than the “if anything” we fear the possibility that this life might be all there is….that there is nothing waiting for us on the other side of death. From a rational, objective, scientific perspective, we have no way to prove what there may or may not be after death. What it there’s nothing!?
Every religious institution has its own beliefs about death and what comes thereafter. Some suggest that this life is all there is. Others preach the ever-evolving wheel of karma and that we return to this life over and over and over until we have worked off that karma so as to earn enlightenment or nirvana. Some suggest the purpose of the human journey is to grow spiritually and that we return until our eternal Soul has completed its growth. Others suggest a place of eternal damnation. Others suggest a place of eternal reward. Some used to suggest there were places in between (limbo or purgatory), but both of these seem to have been eliminated in favor of heaven or hell. Others believe in a hierarchical afterlife where only the very special chosen ones will receive the fullness of the heavenly reward. The beliefs that human beings have developed around the idea of death are endless. No matter which of these is true, we have no control over when death will come for us or how that death will happen (unless it is by our own hand)…..and this scares the hell out of most people.
Until it does not. In the Christian tradition, we are told that Jesus came so as to conquer death…..:
“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3: 11-17
God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 2 Timothy 1: 9-10
…but what was the death that Jesus conquered? Jesus did die…(at least that’s what scripture and Christian doctrine tell us). If Jesus brought eternal life, it is not an eternal life on this human plane. Christianity then goes on to tells us that in his death Jesus guaranteed eternal life for “all who believe in him.” But what about the rest of the world? Are only Christians saved? I very much doubt it. I personally believe we are all saved, but not in the way that has anything to do with a heavenly reward, or lack thereof. Instead, it is not physical death and the “what comes after” that Jesus saves us from. Instead, Jesus came to save us from that which prevents us from LIVING while we are right here, trying to get through this thing called life (Cue Prince). Ironically, the way we make it through this human experience is to face down and move through this which we fear the most – namely death.
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Welcome to the New Year! In celebration of the new life that is waiting for all of us in the coming year, I am offering you a special gift. Please enjoy as my New Year’s gift to you DEEPLY DISCOUNTED rates on Spiritual Counseling/One-on-One mentoring. These discounted prices are only available now through January 8th (and can be used anytime throughout the year), so ACT NOW!
Purchase a single session at $99.00 (originally priced $150.00)
Buy a 3 pack for only $297.00 (a savings of over $150.00)
Save even more and purchase a 6 pack for only $499.00 (a savings of over $400.00!!!)
Offer only good through January 8, 2019! Buy the package now and use your sessions anytime between January 1 – December 31, 2019. No refunds or exchanges on package offers.
Once payment is received, I will send you an email to schedule your sessions. Sessions will be held over the phone or via ZOOM.
I look forward to supporting your spiritual development needs and your desire to choose love in the coming year!
This past weekend, I had an interesting experience. A man I know to be one of the kindest, most generous, faithful and humble human beings, posted a horribly negative comment against our incoming government officials who are of the Muslim faith. I joined my daughter in righteous anger over his comments. How could someone who claims to be a devout Christian, and otherwise a good, kind and generous man believe such horrible things of our Muslim brothers and sisters? I was angry, but beyond the anger, I felt horribly sad. How could this man, for whom I otherwise have the utmost respect, believe that his hatred and fear of Muslims is any way shape or form consistent with Jesus’ teachings? I wanted to step in and ask him if he had read the story of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37) – a story Jesus used to teach us that often the kindest and most “Godly” acts are performed by those who are not of our “tribe” or “belief system.” I also wanted to quote the story of the Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30) who was instrumental in converting Jesus of his own beliefs – who through her persistence and insistence convinced Jesus that he was here for the whole world – not just the tribes of Israel. I refrained from commenting, but I still found myself troubled. So I brought this quandary to prayer.
This is when my compassion stepped in. My friend, in his fear and hatred of Muslims is simply believing what he has been taught by the version of Christianity to which he subscribes – a version cloaked in the same fear of “the other” that he already carried in his mind. To me, this is very sad. And yet, this man, like every single human being walking this planet, is a vessel of Love just waiting to be found. Quite simply, he hasn’t yet found the fullness of his Love – the Love he already is and was made to be, but which is currently hidden beneath a curtain of fear. He freely and generously loves those who believe as he does and in his working profession, generously loves those in need of his service. But, because he doesn’t yet know the fullness of the Love that he is and he hasn’t yet discovered the fullness of Divine love, he is not yet able to love every human being in the way that God does. Here he is bearing out Jesus’ most profound and simplest teaching:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12: 30-31
This scripture has most often been interpreted as a commandment, but it could just as easily be taken as an observation of what is true. We are only capable of loving our neighbor to the extent that we love ourselves. Put another way, the degree to which we are able to love other human beings is proportionate to the degree to which we believe in God’s love for us, and the degree to which we are able to love ourselves as God loves us. This is a plain and simple human truth. My friend is unable to love his Muslim brothers and sisters because for some reason he does not yet comprehend the vast and unconditional nature of God’s love and in this, is also unable to unconditionally love himself. He still has more love in him waiting to be found.
The same is true of all of us. Each and every one of us is Love waiting to be found. And each and every one of us is somewhere along the continuum of finding and then living from that love. Our actions on this human plane then reflect the degree to which we know the love that we are.
This brings me to the topic of evil….
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Holiday Bundles are a terrific way to get the courses you want at a discounted price. For this holiday season, I have three bundles – one to fit all areas of interest: Shamanic Practices, the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine. Chose you bundle and let the transformation begin!